Day 116: Mararoa River Swing-bridge No3 to Princhester Road (Te Anau)

Distance travelled today: 31km, plus 31km hitch to Te Anau
Total TA distance covered: 2782 km

Crazy eyes.

No photos today sorry. I woke up with conjunctivas in my left eye and was pre-occupied all day until I could reach Te Anau. I normally wear contact lenses that stay in for a week at a time before being taken out and cleaned. Unfortunately it is difficult to have continually clean hands on the trail and at some point I’ve rubbed my eye with grimy hands and introduced some bacteria. It was annoying and I had to get the lens out to prevent further infection but didn’t have a mirror to assist. Once the lense was out I had to continually flush my eye with saline solution all morning. And once the lens was out it wasn’t going back in until I had the issue cleared up so was essentially blind in one eye for most of the day. I didn’t want to try and get the right eye lense out, without a mirror and without properly clean hands. All day on the trail your hands are exposed to dirt, oily sunscreen, food, sweet and grime; even when they are kept clean with regular washing and antibacterial liquid.

The sunlight was harsh too and my eyeball blood shot so I had to wear sunnies all day. I wasn’t going to hitch showing the driver my crazy red eye.

Packing up camp as quick as I could in the dark, I was ready to get going on first light. I could have stuck to the trail on the west side of the river and ford it lower down the trail or cross it on the swing bridge and follow along the eastern bank through lightly marked trail. I opted to cross the bridge and follow the river through tussocks straight off the bat rather than get down towards Kiwi Burn Hut and find the river too deep to cross.

There was’t much of a trail along this section at all. It was lightly poled and there was a faint foot pad but for much of the way it was find your own route through. Most trampers are choosing to head straight out to the road and follow this down instead of following a barely there trail. I persisted for a couple of hours and got around 10km along but soon got sick of yet more difficult tussock walking and cut up towards the road where the trail is closest, at around TA kilometre 2763.

From there it was a charge down the road towards SH94 for around 16 km. My eye was really annoying me and I needed to get to town quick to get it checked out. Preoccupied I didn’t pay much attention to anything around me and pressed on down the road, reaching it around 2:30pm.

With a thumb out I soon had a ride into town with a local farmer. I didn’t want to scare the old bugger with my now super red blood shot eye and kept my sunnies on the whole ride in. He was fine and we chatted the whole way in.

Once in town I tracked down the medical centre but it was closed being a Saturday afternoon and I didn’t want to bother with an out of hours call for the quack. I knew what my eye had and how it needed to be treated so kept walking the street, found a chemist and explained my situation. I soon had suitable antibacterial drops and got them in. It didn’t take long for the symptoms to desist and my comfort level return to normal.

I then had a lazy afternoon, checking into the YHA, having a coffee and resupplying for the final time. Finding a nice cafe for coffee I met up with two Israeli brothers who had just finished Te Araroa and had headed back to Te Anau to walk the Kepler track. I shared a good hour over coffee and cake with these guys pumping them for information on the final sections I was yet to do. They were great. Even after walking 3000 km they werent done with tramping? I was impressed.

The Te Anau YHA has to be one of the cleanest, friendliest YHA’s around and they accept the Low Carbon Traveller discount for Te Araroa walkers even though the hostel us 30 km off trail. They know most TA trampers come in off the trail for their final resupply and are happy to support them.

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